World Challenge, the trip to Ecuador, it changed my life in so many ways and I'll never forget it for that. Not that you could forget it, the whole trip was amazing.
The above image is from a year ago.
I don't think I have ever changed so much in the space of a year as I have in the last twelve months. I feel like I don't even know that girl in the photo above. I'm happy with who I was then, and I'm happy with who I am now, but I'm so different in so many ways that I feel you can't compare the two of us. The two of me. Whatever.
We couldn't speak Kichwa, the language that the kids in the photo spoke, but we could still communicate with them and they were the most welcoming community I have ever met and the three days we spent with them, I believe that those three days helped shape who I am today. We taught them a few games, their favourite was duck duck goose and we played it for hours, and they taught us this game with a stone, and it was just the best. How do I put an experience like this into words?
I didn't blog a year ago. That seems so crazy! It feels like I've been doing this forever, I love it. I'm pretty sure I started blogging because when we got back I started reading Brooke Reid's blog, Rookie Brookie. Brooke was one of the girls on the trip who is also a blogger, I didn't even know blogging was really a thing before I started reading hers! So if you're reading this Brooke, thank you. In a way, I have Brooke and Ecuador to thank for this, because I wouldn't really know Brooke if it wasn't for Ecuador.
A year ago I had no clue what I wanted to do after school. I now know that although being a full-time writer/blogger/YouTuber would be my dream job, I'm (hopefully) going to go to Deakin University and study psychology. I have my year 11 psych teacher to thank for that. Psych was just a subject that I picked randomly because I didn't know what else to pick, and now it's what I want to do!
Physical differences- year ago me has much longer hair, tanner skin, a sunburn, only one pair of ear piercings. I wasn't as fit as I am now but I was smaller. Those aren't big differences.
In the photo you can see the little grey wristbands that I think I wore pretty much constantly on the trip. They're special nausea wristbands that press into a pressure point in your wrist, so people often wear them if they get travel sickness. I have a phobia of vomit, nausea, anything related to vomit really, so I just wore them constantly on the trip. Thinking back now, that probably made them less effective overtime, but they worked, for the most part, and I wasn't sick once. Win.
That's another thing that's changed, my phobia of vomit is a lot worse. The other day, for example, someone simply felt unwell and I started to panic. I didn't use to do that.
The red thing pinned to my shirt in the photo was a little message the kids wrote for me- each of us on the trip got one. I still have mine in a box in my wardrobe, as well as a picture one of the kids drew for me. Those are two really valuable things for me- it was probably just a school project for the kids, but those strangers welcomed us into their lives and were so friendly and just some of the best people I've ever met.
Ecuador changed my life. I wonder who I'd be if I didn't go on the trip? When I first learnt about it, all the way back in 2012, I immediately thought 'there is no way I'm doing that'. I can't remember how or why I changed my mind, or how I ended up on the trip in the first place, but I'm so glad I did.
Something that my mum asked me to do whilst I was there was keep a journal and write everyday. She did ten (???) or so years of travelling and didn't keep a journal, and she always says it's one of her biggest regrets. I'm so glad she mentioned that to me before we left because even now, only a year on, I'm forgetting bit and pieces. As November 2015 goes on, I'm re-reading each day of November 2014, and it's really special, or at least I think it is. I thought I'd just include a bit of what I wrote this time last year -
We thought we were going straight from the project to the mini trek in the rainforest, but we get a night in a hostel first! Pretty keen for a shower and an actual bed, not gonna lie.
It was really sad saying goodbye to all the kids this morning. Each age group in the school sang a song to us, and the middle years came and pinned paper hearts that they had made to our shirts. They had written on the hearts 'thank you very much and have a nice trip'! They chased the taxi/trucks we were in down the road yelling and waving.
The hostel here is really nice, the beds are ace and the SHOWER WAS HOT OH MY GOSH. Also, we get breakfast at the hostel and no one does breakfast better than Ecuadorian hostels.
It's so interesting just seeing how much my writing style and how I speak has changed in just one year. Some bits of the journal make me cringe now, but it's interesting to have an insight at what I was like a year ago. I won't include the whole day worth of writing because this blogpost is already pretty long.
It's crazy how much one person can change in a year. In a year I've figured out what I want to do and who I am (this is so cheesy I'm sorry).
I know this is a little different, and a bit more personal to my usual posts but I really wanted to share this. So much love to you all,